term on the Bar Foundation ended in 1997.
As with many of my fellow Foundation
Presidents, I found it difficult to get the
Foundation’s causes and mission out of my
blood following my service on the Board. 1999 David Gaona
My term as President of the Foundation was
positive but was filled with challenges, expected and unexpected. Just after my term began,
major banks in Arizona reduced the interest
rate on the IOLTA accounts dramatically.
Overnight, the interest rate on those accounts
went down by 50 percent, the consequence
of which was a major depletion of income
available to the Foundation to serve its
purposes. The impact was significant to our
grantees, programs like Community Legal
Services in Phoenix, Southern Arizona Legal
Aid in Tucson, Legal Services programs for
Native Americans sprinkled throughout the
state, the Florence Immigration Project, and
the list goes on and on.
In response, fundamental shifts were
made at the Foundation, the first of which
was to actively begin a conversation with the
banking community to ensure that the banks
understood the real-life impact that reduc-
tion of interest rates on IOLTA accounts had
and how making a small upward change in
the interest rate would be a positive change
to the lives of so many. We also explored and
hired a professional to develop and assist us
with active fundraising. Throughout it all,
our educational programming, Mock Trial,
We the People, Law for Kids, and others con-
tinued to thrive through the dedication of
our LRE staff.
My recollection of my term as President
of what was then the Arizona Bar
Foundation really reflects my recollection of
the issues that faced the Foundation during
my entire tenure on the Board of Directors.
A few of the items that stand out include
• We discovered through a public relations
initiative that the Arizona Bar Foundation
name did not resonate with the general
public. In an effort to have a name more
representative of who we were and with
the hope of generating more annual rev-
enue, we began the process that resulted
in adoption of the current name of
Arizona Foundation for Legal Services
• IOLTA was constantly on our minds
because it represented the primary source
of revenue for the Foundation. However,
that source had declined by almost 40
percent over the preceding 10 years.
Bank interest rates were dropping, and
sophisticated clients were instructing
their lawyers to open separate accounts
with interest credited to the client rather
than to IOLTA.
2002 was a “change” year. We focused on
reaching into the non-legal community to
engage individuals and businesses and raise
money. Responsibility for access to the
courthouse belongs to everyone, and the
same goes for civics education. (No one
expects physicians to be solely responsible for
health care for poor people, do they?)
We started with a name change, as
“Arizona Bar Foundation” said nothing
about the Foundation’s mission and activities, and always required an explanation.
Eleven years later, I don’t know whether the
change has fulfilled its purpose, but it does
better describe the two aspects of what the
Foundation does, and I believe that can only
help the cause.
We also changed our bylaws to take more
control of our Board appointments process.